The tension was growing between us - between me and that strong, firstborn son of mine.
As a young mom I was hardest on him, because he was my first. I could see myself projecting my own burden of perfectionism onto that precious boy, and I hated it. The bar was too high, and it had to come down. This was not the mom I wanted to be, and I knew something had to change.
I knew I needed to change; I just wasn’t sure how.
Then something unexpected happened. I did begin to change, as I discovered the power of prayer, including the power of PRAISE - to simply stand in wonder of who God is. As I learned how to stand in awe of God, I also learned how to stand in awe of His most priceless gifts to me - my children.
I made what may be the most profound self-discovery of my young motherhood:
So often I focus on who my children aren’t, I forget who they are.
This discovery came at a point in my life when I desperately needed a shift in focus - to view my children with a spirit of wonder, awe and praise; instead of worry, fear and criticism.
I praise You, Lord, for Kolbe is fearfully and wonderfully made.
Your work in him is wonderful, I know that full well.
All the days ordained for Kolbe were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
From Psalm 139: 14,16 (NIV)
These words of praise have become the necessary starting point of my prayer. I’ve prayed them for Kolbe countless times over the last several years, as I have for each of my children. They invite me to stand in wonder.
Looking back to the season before I learned to pray this way, I recall an unforgettable turning point...
I remember with crystal clarity the day I stood in wonder of Kolbe - in a way I hadn’t before. He was about ten years old, and the tension in our relationship had continued to build. While spending a few days as a family at our lake house, God put it on my heart to find a way to spend some quality time with him doing something fun.
Football. Kolbe loved to play football.
So this not so athletic mom asked if he wanted to go out and throw the football together, something I had never done before. Without hesitation Kolbe said, “Sure!” Off we went to the front yard and passed the football - back and forth.
My first few throws were pretty pathetic. “My bad,” I kept apologizing.
To my amazement, Kolbe didn’t get frustrated, or laugh at me, or question why we were even doing this. With a sweetness and patience I had never quite seen before, my ten year old son began to teach me the proper way to throw a football.
Step by step, he showed me where to place my hand, how to form my fingers, how to posture my shoulders, how to hold my arm, and when to release. With every pass, he affirmed what I did right and gently corrected what I had done wrong.
On that bright sunny day, as I stood out on that wide open lawn, God granted me a bright new pair of wide open eyes.
This child I had always taught was now teaching me.
My stunning realization was this - I had never taught Kolbe how to teach someone to throw the football. This was a gift he possessed, that I had not given him; a unique facet of who he was, that had nothing to do with me.
It had everything to do with the One who created him.
I stood in wonder and awe.
God wants to give us an endless outpouring of moments like this; a lifetime of looking at our children with a spirit of true wonder. God wants to wow us. He wants to gift us with the kind of wonder defined as “a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.”
Imagine a brightly, wide-eyed toddler and how every day brings them something unexpected - a butterfly, an airplane, or even a rock - each new discovery is an exciting surprise to them. And they behold it with such awe.
This is what God wants for us to experience in our relationship with Him! When we discover something new or unexpected in our children, God is reminding us that we were made for wonder. That sunny afternoon tossing a football with Kolbe, I was wowed - not only by my son’s gentle coaching, but by God breaking open this new dimension of my motherhood.
We were made for wonder, because we were wonderfully made.
So what does it mean to be wonderfully made? Psalm 139 gives us a brilliant window into the wonder of who we are…
In Psalm 139:13, we read that God knit us together in our mother’s womb. Of course this beautiful imagery points the actual moment of our conception. But Psalm 139:15-16 points to something even more intriguing and mysterious…
“My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.Your eyes saw my unformed body…”
God knew our “frame” when we were “made in the secret place”. He wove us “together in the depths of the earth”, and His “eyes saw my unformed body”. I LOVE what this tells us about our children!
Long before our precious children were conceived in the womb, God conceived them. He chose them, He knew them, and He designed them - every single aspect of their “frame”. Not just their physical frame, but their personal, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual frame as well.
Everything about our children was designed by God - their entire person! Their strengths and weaknesses; their abilities and disabilities - God wove together every intricacy. Nothing about our children was unplanned. Nothing about them was an accident, a mistake, or an oversight.
The Lord confirms this in the rest of verse 16,
“...all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”
God knows every joy and pain, every success and failure; every cross, struggle, sickness and disease. He knows the span of our life, because He is the Author of it. He has written every page of our children’s story before one of them came to be.
Once again, I stand in wonder.
To stand in wonder is to stop in our tracks. When we praise God for our children, we stop in our tracks - to behold the wonder of who HE has created them to be. As I tossed that football with Kolbe years ago, God revealed a piece of who my son was created to be that I had not yet even discovered.
When we stop to recognize that we were made for wonder, it is right there on that holy ground, that God will lift our anxious hearts and critical eyes to see His majesty. We will see the grandeur of His creation in our children - just as He designed them to be - nothing more and nothing less.
Your work in Kolbe is wonderful, I know that full well!
Today, dear friend, open your MPC and turn to the page of one of your children. As you pray those first few lines from Psalm 139, ask God to give you eyes wide open. Let Him stop you in your tracks - as you stand in wonder of His beautiful work in your child.
These children of ours were made for wonder, because they were wonderfully made.